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Why Art

“We’re about putting kids on a path to success, and art is part of that,” Alphons says. “Ultimately, kids can be anything they want—a doctor, an accountant, an engineer—but giving them a creative toolkit hardwires them, at a very young age, to think innovatively.”

Artist Sanford Biggers concurs. (A painting of his grandfather, made when Biggers was 16, is included in the exhibition.) “Arts education is more than just learning the skills to produce art,” he says. “It’s thinking outside of the box, creative problem-solving, and improvisation. It increases visual and historical literacy—qualities that can positively affect any field.”

“There was so much I couldn’t do,” Simmons says, thinking back on the demands of her early school days. “It’s so important for children to be able to express themselves, to feel empowered. To feel like they can use their intuition, rather than memorization, or working with numbers, which might not come naturally.”

The importance of “giving a kid a quiet space to draw, and think, and make” should never be underestimated, Simmons adds. “In the end, there is no right and wrong answer,” she says. “Imagine that! It’s amazing freedom.”

Read the full article here: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-childhood-artworks-famous-artists-laurie-simmons-olafur-eliasson

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As a member of the MFA, I received this email today and think it’s important to share. The letter, written by five Boston-area museum directors outlines why funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is so vital to our communities. 

As directors of Boston’s art museums, we serve as stewards of the public trust. So, we are alarmed at reports that the National Endowment for the Arts is under threat of being abolished, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Each of these entities champions art and culture in communities across America.

In Boston, NEA and NEH funding has been instrumental at each of our museums, supporting our extensive programs of public access, teaching and scholarship, conservation, collections, and exhibitions. NEA and NEH grants supported the digitization and cataloging of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s singular collection; acquisition funds for works of art by American artists of color in The Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the forthcoming exhibition Animal-Shaped Vessels from the Ancient World: Feasting with Gods, Heroes, and Kings at the Harvard Art Museums; the restoration of American artist Kenneth Noland’s only public art piece at MIT; and transformative art education programs for Boston Public Schools middle and high school students at the ICA.

Federal support has been a critical piece of the puzzle for museums in our shared mission to foster knowledge, create cultural exchange, generate jobs and tourism, educate our youth, ignite the imagination of our audiences, and nurture the creativity of working artists. Across the country—in communities small and large, urban and rural—the NEA and NEH help to guarantee access to the arts and the preservation and presentation of diverse cultural expression. The prestige and visibility of the NEA and NEH connect our entire cultural community, though we are well aware of the outsized influence of federal dollars at our most vulnerable arts institutions across America.

On Wednesday, our colleague Thomas Campbell of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times eloquently outlining how every museum relies not only on financial support but also on the advocacy of the NEA to strengthen communities through the arts.

We share the belief that access to the arts is at the core of a democratic and equitable society. During this moment of heightened national discord, the elimination of the NEA and NEH is not a cut our country can afford.

Art is, at its best, a dialogue. We hope that you’ll participate in the conversation about the importance of federal funding for the arts and join us as stewards of the public good.

Peggy Fogelman, Norma Jean Calderwood Director, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Paul Ha, Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center
Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, Institute of Contemporary Art
Martha Tedeschi, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director, Harvard Art Museums
Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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I recently read this article about what artists can learn from teachers.

I think it is so important for art teachers to maintain a personal practice. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your students… and not just by making teacher samples, but by engaging in artistic practices–looking at art and sketching and planing and doing (and re-doing). As a full-time teacher, however, it can be difficult to make time to make my own work. Whenever I meet someone new, and they find out that I’m an art teacher, their second question is usually, “Do you make your own work?” I don’t have a simple answer. It usually depends on the season.

During the school year, especially in the fall, I often spend most of my free time setting up my classroom, planning for the year, experimenting with new lessons and generally getting back into the routine of being at school. During this time, I often spend more time thinking about work that I’d like to make instead of making it. In the winter and spring, I tend to spend less time outdoors and more time indoors, which means more time working on personal projects. Winter in New England is a great time to devote to my own practice. At the end of the school year, I am often busy with our all-school art show, end-of-year events, handing back work, taking inventory, and ordering materials for the following year.

The time ebbs and flows, but the point is that I continue to make time for myself.

One thing I’ve realized over the years is that the less tightly I hold onto one artistic identity (“painter,” “printmaker,” etc.), and the more space I give myself to make–to try new media and techniques–the more I usually enjoy making art. The more permission I give myself to make, the more opportunities I give myself to discover new ways of creating.

This weekend I’ve been snowed in and have spent my time finishing work for an upcoming show I am co-curating at Dorchester Art Project. As February break approaches, I’m excited to devote a full week to my personal practice.

Do you make your own work? How do you balance/schedule your time?

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“Manners do matter, but I’d prefer that she not be too sophisticated at a young age. When we’re making art, I try not to show her any techniques. If she wants to draw a purple frog with curly legs, I don’t correct her. That’s her imagination and I don’t want to damage that part of her nature.”

reblogged from: Humans of New York

The arts are a great way to teach students [leadership skills]. While science and mathematics seek to quantify the world, and history and language give us the tools to understand the world from a human perspective, these disciplines are all based on rational discourses about the world as it is. We turn to the arts to help us understand and gain perspective on what remains: our emotions, our unanswerable questions, and the general mysteries of being alive.

Here are seven ways that working in the arts can give students the skills to become great leaders:

1. Creativity

2. Risk-Taking

3. Learning to Be Yourself

4. Understanding the Power of Myth and Symbols

5. Observational Skills

6. Project Planning

7. Collaboration and Appropriation

Read the full article here.

Words are just a way we communicate. Images are a way we communicate. And I couldn’t figure out why they had to be in different baskets.

-John Baldessari

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On the second day of art, I asked my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classes to write down something they already knew about art (in a speech bubble) and something they wanted to know/learn about art (in a thought bubble). I cut out their answers and taped them to a large piece of paper on the wall outside of the art room. It’s an interesting way to see what they remember and what they’re interested in learning about.